It’s often said that pastors and their families live in a “fishbowl”. Growing up as a pastor’s kid, I’ve never really known anything different, but just yesterday I guess I didn’t realize how paranoid I can be when I stop and realize people are staring. Sitting in a restaurant with my husband and oldest daughter, I noticed a woman paying very little attention to the husband sitting across the table from her, but literally never removing her stare from my family’s table. It got to a point that I could not even focus on our conversation, then began to anger me and then I began to think the thoughts of the “fishbowl”. I sat there and thought, “She must know who we are”. It happens all the time. People know who we are from visiting our church, but we may not have met them personally, or their visit was brief and we never met them at all, but yet, they know us. My thoughts were so consumed with “Why is she staring” that I never stopped to just rest in the fact that maybe she was just simply seeing a family that loved being together, no TITLE attached to us, but maybe she was seeing what we have been talking about in our family over the last few days…living from a Christ-centered place and LOVING it out, if you know what I mean. Thing is, I can become so inward in my thoughts. I can make assumption the birthplace of my reactions, actions and even lack of action. In living in the fishbowl of ministry are people saying, “They didn’t speak to me when I passed them,” or “They haven’t done enough for me,” or when I pass another and they no longer speak or make eye contact, allowing my thoughts to be, “What did I do to make them turn away from me”? My thoughts can really turn an unreality into a whole ordeal in my head and heart.
Over the last few months, my everyday life has held a heightened time of chronic pain that I’ve lived with for 13 years, an anxious heart as my Mom has undergone tests and questions of possible cancer, walking with friends and people in our congregation who are going through difficult situations and illnesses, preparing for my oldest to leave our nest and fly out on her own, while still parenting her and our other daughters through their own everyday “life stuff”. The truth about the proverbial “fishbowl” is that while we believe everyone sees everything that we go through, no one can truly see the depth of what often goes on within our hearts. The assumptions that what we see in a limited time together, or on social media, will never quite replace the real vulnerability of opening up and sharing what we are going through. Maybe I haven’t known all that’s going on in your life, and you didn’t know until now, all I’ve had in mine, but today we can take time to ask, “How are you really doing” and follow up with caring, loving and praying. Today we can stop living in the “You should read my mind and know what I’m going through” and realize it’s okay to not be okay, and TELL somebody that!
To some degree, we are all living in a fishbowl. When you call yourself Christ-follower, many will look to discredit you – fair or unfair – because that is how the enemy works, but what can “feel” like an inconvenience is truly an opportunity to have a life that may not be all put together and tied up in a neat bow, but TRULY portrays that EVERYDAY we need more and more of Jesus, no matter what title you bear! Can we all just focus outward today to sense the need that someone you cross pass with today has to be LOVED? Change the tide today by stopping the assumptions and live in the reality that we all can offer love, and THAT changes everything!